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Disney, DreamWorks Named in Suit

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and Walt Disney Co. are among a handful of animation studios named in a class action lawsuit alleging they conspired to suppress the wages of visual effects workers by agreeing not to hire from each other. The antitrust lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Monday, includes claims that Steve Jobs, while he was chief executive of Emeryville-based Pixar, formed a “no raid” pact with DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. Pixar was later acquired in 2006 by Disney in Burbank. That deal, in which Pixar and DreamWorks agreed not to actively pursue each other’s employees, is alleged to have affected the wages of employees by limiting competition. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Robert Nitsch, who was a senior character effects artist at DreamWorks in Glendale from 2007 to 2011. “Visual effects and animation companies have conspired to systematically suppress the wages and salaries of those who they claim to prize as their greatest assets—their own workers,” the complaint alleges. “The conspiracy deprived Plaintiff and other class members of millions of dollars which Defendants instead put to their bottom lines.” DreamWorks declined comment. Representatives of Disney could not be reached.

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